THE Catholic Church’s woes over sex-abuser priests continued yesterday despite a further attempt by the country’s most senior cleric to put the matter to rest with fresh apologies and promises to make amends.
Primate of All Ireland Cardinal Seán Brady dedicated his Easter Sunday homily at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Armagh to the crisis, telling the congregation he personally had “many past failures and inadequacies” in dealing with the problem.
Cardinal Brady continues to face calls for his resignation for his part in enabling paedophile priest Brendan Smyth to continue abusing children for 18 years after his behaviour was revealed.
He admitted he had allowed himself to be influenced by the culture described by Pope Benedict in his recent letter to Irish Catholics as a “misplaced concern for the reputation of the Church and the avoidance of scandal”.
“Once again, I apologise with all my heart to all survivors of clerical child sexual abuse,” he said. “I pledge to you that, from now on, my over-riding concern will always be the safety and protection of everyone in the Church, but especially children and all those who are vulnerable.”
As he delivered his message, however, Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin was being heckled on arrival to celebrate Mass at the city’s Pro-Cathedral.
A group of protesters who had planned to stage a walk to the altar during Communion tied children’s shoes to the railings of the Pro- Cathedral, but were refused entry by Gardaí and diocesan stewards.
Four women and two men did gain access and walked up the central aisle, leaving shoes on the altar in front of Archbishop Martin while one of the men shouted to them that they were a disgrace.
The protester, Robert Mangan from Dublin, said later he had been particularly angered that prayers were said for Pope Benedict.
The Pope, under fire for allegations about his handling of abusers while serving as archbishop in Germany, failed to address the issue during Easter Mass at St Peter’s Square in Rome.
However, in a dramatic break with protocol that showed the Vatican on the defensive, one of his cardinals spoke out on his behalf, dismissing the allegations as “gossip”.
Welcoming the Pope to the square, Cardinal Angelo Sodano said: “The people of God are with you, and they won’t let themselves be influenced by the gossip of the moment, by the attempts being made to strike the community of the faithful.”
Earlier, an aide to the Pope had to apologise after outraging Jews by saying attacks on the Church over the sex abuse scandal were like the collective violence against Jews in the past.
The Irish hierarchy, meanwhile, received an apology from the head of the Anglican Church in Britain who said their Church had lost all credibility. Archbishop Martin had said he was stunned and discouraged by the remarks, which were broadcast by the BBC.
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